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Sanity returning to Apapa-Lagos as electronic call-up system begins

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Sanity is finally returning to Apapa-Lagos area, where Nigeria’s largest and most thriving ports are located, which was brought to its knees by protracted gridlock.

The gridlock seemed to have defiled several solutions as it had persisted and frustrated many business activities, some of which were forced to relocate out of the area. Many residents have had to abandon their homes too.

The gridlock began to disappear on Saturday following the commencement of the electronic call-up system introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority.

Apapa had in the past several years defied effort to solve its traffic problem; the efforts, including a presidential task team, were blighted by corruption, THISDAY reported.

However, normalcy returned to Apapa following the removal of trucks that littered the port access roads – Apapa Oshodi Express Way and Western Avenue leading to Ijora.

When THISDAY visited both ends of the port access roads yesterday, officials of the Lagos State government and NPA taskforce teams were seen with tow vehicles well positioned to remove erring trucks.

This is the first time that electronic call-up would be deployed to direct truck movement into ports in Lagos.

This automated process, known as Eto App, is expected to permanently restore sanity within the Apapa port corridor by removing the daily traffic congestion, if properly managed.

Meanwhile, port users, operators and Apapa residents were elated by the development. They called on NPA to ensure that the effort was sustained.

A resident, Mr Chukwuma Vincent, said, “If you have been to Apapa in the past you will know what I am talking about. Our businesses went down, property lost value and people were dying.

“We call on NPA to sustain this. I drove through to my house for the first time in many years and I cried. I thought we had no government in Nigeria again. This is worth celebrating and I can only hope it lasts.”

Importers, clearing agents and truck owners also expressed optimism as the electronic call-up system began yesterday. They called for a functional holding bay by shipping companies for return of empty containers.

The NPA had late last year announced the launch of Eto, an Electronic Truck call-up system designed for the management of truck movement and access to and from the Lagos Ports Complex and the Tin Can Island Ports, Apapa, Lagos. The authority said all trucks doing business at the ports would be required to park at the approved truck parks until they were called up into the port through the Eto app. NPA explained that the Eto app will be responsible for the scheduling, entry and exit of all trucks from the ports with effect from February 27. It also stated that about 7,000 trucks had been certified fit for the digitalised call up system, revealing that effective February 27, trucks must approach the ports from a holding bay or truck parks with a bar code to access the ports.

Stakeholders were optimistic that the electronic call-up system would end corruption in the port access management system.

Vice Chairman, National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Dry Cargo section, Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa, said the call-up system would end artificial bottlenecks on the port access roads. However, National Vice President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto, said unless the port access roads were fixed it might not yet be uhuru.

Inuwa said, “I call on all stakeholders to cooperate and allow it work. If that happens, then we will get good result. Actually, if it takes off successfully, it will eradicate corruption, no human contact and other artificial bottleneck. NARTO wishes the authority a successful take-off.

“The motive is to take trucks off the roads, but NPA should involve other garages where trucks are parked in order to successfully decongest the roads.”

Farinto urged the NPA management to be steadfast in enforcing the call-up system. He said the on-going construction of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway must also be completed in good time because there cannot be an effective call-up system without a good road.

“The road should be put in adequate place because there is nothing the call-up can achieve without a proper port access road, ” he said.

Farinto, a former chairman, Tin-Can Island chapter of ANLCA, said shipping companies must be compelled to have functional holding bay for return of empty containers.

According to him, “Shipping companies should put up a holding bay for empty containers because without an efficient holding bay, is there a way the policy can be achieved?

“NPA should also decisively take over the system and prevent the security agencies from hijacking it. They must totally remove human contact but how to achieve that I still don’t know because Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) will still be generated manually.

“Also, there is nothing on ground to show that it will be electronic. Human contact must be completely eliminated because what is happening on the port access roads is an eyesore that is giving stakeholders sleepless nights.”

Aviation

Rains: NiMet warns of severe turbulence, flight cancellations

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The Director-General, Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Prof. Mansur Matazu, has said airlines will encounter severe turbulence, flight delays and cancellations during rainfall.
He therefore called on pilots and airline managements to adhere to the weather forecast as the likely severe turbulence could cause discomfort, injury to passengers, instability and even loss of control for small aircraft.
Matazu was quoted in a statement on Friday as saying, “Heavy rains could also lead to skidding of aeroplanes due to surface wetness and impaired horizontal visibility.
“Thunderstorms could also lead to accidents, incidents, flight delays, flight cancellation, death, damage among others.
“Windshear could lead to accidents, incidents, aircraft nosedive, discomfort, aircraft lost control and death.”
The NiMet boss urged airline operators to take weather forecast seriously, stating the turbulence usually would cause poor visibility.
He also called on passengers to be patient with the airlines as flight delays, flight cancellations and flight diversion will be experienced within this period.

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Navy arrests 10 vandals with smuggled 210,000 litres of diesel

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Operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft have arrested 10 suspected vandals with 210,000 litre of stolen diesel.
The suspects were alleged to have attempted to smuggle the products concealed in water tanks to neighbouring Benin Republic through a wooden boat when they were intercepted around the Lagos anchorage.
A statement released on Friday by Base Information Officer, Sub-Lieutenant Veronica Effiong, said the suspects with the seized products had been handed over to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, after preliminary investigations.
She said, “The vandals and seized products were on Tuesday, June 15, handed over to the Lagos Command of the NSCDC for further investigation and prosecution.
“The Commander NNS BEECROFT Commodore Bashir Mohammed reiterated the NNS BEECROFT`s commitment to the protection of critical national infrastructure and the eradication of all illegal activities in its area of responsibility in line with the Chief of the Naval Staff`s mission statement and strategic directive of 2021-5.
“As partners for a safe maritime environment, members of the public especially our host communities are enjoined to kindly furnish the base with credible information to assist in curbing the activities of criminal elements and economic saboteurs.”

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Business

Buhari challenges MTN on quality service, data rate

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President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the MTN Group to offer quality service to its Nigerian subscribers at cheaper rates.
He stated this when he received in audience members of the board of MTN Group, led by its President and Chief Executive Officer, Ralph Mupita, at the State House, Abuja, on Friday.
Buhari said, “I congratulate you on your appointment as the Group President of MTN. I wish you all the best.
“Nigeria is your most lucrative market in Africa, Asia and the Middle East as well as the source of a third of the income of the entire MTN Group. As such, we urge you to offer top-of-the-range and affordable services to Nigerians.
“As we seek to make broadband widely available and affordable, we urge MTN to continue to support our efforts by expanding high-quality connectivity to Nigerians in un-served and under-served areas.”
The President also called on MTN to support the implementation of the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the telecommunications sector.
He said, “I recently unveiled and launched the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian telecommunications sector.
“I call on MTN to support the implementation of this policy and, train and engage more Nigerians in your company.”
He assured his visitors that his administration was doing everything possible to make Nigeria investor-friendly by addressing identified challenges.

He said, “We have identified and addressed the key challenges that affected the growth of the digital economy sector. I am happy to note that the right of way charges have now been pegged at a maximum of N145/linear metre.
“I have given directives for the protection of critical national infrastructure and this has addressed the issue of vandalism of such infrastructure.”

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